Sep 042012

Recently I read a blog post by the Legal Genealogist who had been following a blog thread of discussing the percentage found of ancestors.

In my bio (assuming any of you have read it <G>) I tell you I have been researching my family history since 1986 when I started initially, to answer a question from my Mother, and got hooked (obsessed)!

I have been doing it ever since, and for the mathematically minded of you, that is 26 years.

Now from the non-genealogists who hear this figure of 26 years the most common responses are:

“You have been doing this for 26 years and you haven’t finished it yet? Wouldn’t it be better for you to take up a hobby that you can do?”

“In 26 years you must have gone back a long way back in your research. What? You say that on that line you only go back to 1820?”

or the “Why are you bothering? They are all dead!”

So after 26 years how have I done?

Hmm, those numbers don’t look that great, do they?

So I am missing three names in the 5th generation:

Sarah Morgan married William Philpott (or did she?) about 1858-1859 and they settle around the Folkestone-Saltwood-Hythe area in Kent and have 13 children. 

So far I have been unable to find this marriage. Sarah was also a bit creative with her age and a bit unsure of where she was born and gave a different place each census. I have found a possible family but without the marriage certificate and with a reasonably common name like Morgan, I can’t be sure and can’t count her parents so two down and consequently their parents etc.

My third name missing in this generation is the father of Martha Polhill Wood born around 1820 in Lydd, Kent, the illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Wood. While the middle name of Polhill may be suggestive, there is no evidence so I lose those ancestors, probably for ever, so that paternal line stops in 1820.

In this generation as well, I also have my end of line Irish ancestors. They are pre-civil registration Catholics, three of whom have common names. One each of their children had emigrated to Australia in the 1860s one from Monaghan and one from Cork and then met and married in Toowoomba, Queensland so the very nice Queensland certificate gave me the the Mother’s and Father’s name for each. 

While I know their names and the male occupations and where the children were supposedly born, they are being elusive to say the least. So they are also lost to me at present. Hopefully not forever.

Then, of course, is the fact at this point, I now have five different lines of Smiths!  

I really don’t know why Kezia Smith, when she was looking around the village of Selling in Kent decided in 1839 that the only person she wanted to marry was George Smith? Maybe she was worried about being able to remember a new married name?

So these ancestors and a number of other closed lines due to illegitimacy,  and a number of other elusive ancestors for various reasons has accounted for my only having found 17% of my direct ancestors in these generations.

My earliest date confirmed ancestor is Richard Wills born in 1669 in Perranuthnoe, Cornwall. I do know his father’s name, also Richard but nothing further about the father (except he was clever enough to have Richard without any credit being given to his wife in the baptismal register!) so he is not counted.

I have done a lot of work on the families and their lives of my ancestors as I research family history rather than just direct line ancestors but that 17% does grate a bit.

So my plan is to go back and revisit my end of line ancestors to see if I can increase my percentage of ancestors found.

What is your percentage of ancestors found and confirmed?

  9 Responses to “Finished? Not me!”

  1. This is a great idea. I saw that post at the Legal Genealogist blog too. I might have to work out the percentage of my ancestors that I know! My tree has a lot of those end-of-line Irish though. Great post Helen.

  2. So, I quickly checked two of my trees on Ancestry (never the most accurate of my files). One file is called VERIFIED and I know everyone in that tree I have documentary evidence for. I have 17 per cent. In the other file, which I am positive has mistakes in it (I went a little leaf mad when the shaking leaves first appeared), I have 23 per cent. Both numbers grate!!! Time to get cracking on the branches of my tree, and stop fiddling with the pollen!

  3. Thank you Aillin. It was a bit sobering to realise that I had only found 17% of the direct line ancestors in those generations. I am thinking of re-running this analysis at each year's end to see my progress on end of line ancestors within those generations.

  4. Hi Amy, I agree the numbers do grate as does the realisation I haven't really re-looked at a number of these end of line ancestors in a while as I had been concentrating on following siblings of more recent generations. I am blessed (cursed?) with a lot of families with large numbers of children.

  5. I still think that's a spectacular effort Helen. And of course it doesn't count all the side branches we manage to get ourselves caught up in πŸ™‚

  6. Our work never finishes. There is always more to find. That is why it is so challenging and rewarding.

    As someone who likes statistics and graphs, I really like your chart and know what I will be doing this weekend πŸ™‚

    Thank you

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Thanks Sharon. I'd be interested in your results. It is interesting to revisit this every so often and hopefully the percentage found will increase regularly.

  9. Hi Helen I've nominated you for Blog of the Year 2012 Award you can see the details here

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